Sunday, September 30, 2007

Glimpses of my "roomiehood"

My readers should excuse my obsession with writing about myself all the time. :)
There are phases where I want to comment on others ( mostly because my own life is really boring) and then there are times when I have to constantly check how much I go on writing about myself. So taking a bit of a risk I would like to write about the sunny side of roomiehood.

Refuting parental assumptions that I am some sort of a high maintenance snob, I think I am well ensconsed in a house filled with three (crazy) girls. :)
There is great joy in being with two girls, especially since I never had a sister who shared a room with me. So here is a list of all the good things about roomiehood

1. When three average sized girls come together, suddenly you have triple the amount of clothes you usually had. To add to it, if one of you is outdoorsy, one chic and posh and the remaining bohemian, you have a wide range of classy and funky clothes to pick up from.
2. The territorial demarcations fade in about two weeks. You start grabbing each other's makeup or rummaging through each other's drawers first thing in the morning to find the shirt that goes with your weekend shopping.
3. You get to know that there are people as paranoid about certain trivial things as you are. Like one of my roomies is a dishwasher. The moment you leave any thing dirty on the sink it gets squeaky clean and sits on the shelf before you can have a sip of water. They also tell me that I discover my own "Nirvana" with the vacuum cleaner.
4. Everything going on in your life is openly discussed and used over and over to make cheeky comments and embarrass you. You cannot maintain your usual "cold" and "reserved" image. ( Although I have no idea why I would make that kind of image anyways with so much noise I always make)
5. Sometimes you laugh so much on something that you fall off the bed.( Which kind of gives you a reason to go on laughing for another hour)
6. You pick up contagious diseases like digging into the big tub of ice cream when you see the other two licking their spoons and being indifferent towards your steely determination of staying away from sugar at night.
7. You tend to feel good about yourself when one of them suggests that you should make the carrot-groundnut salad again this week because it was yummy. :)
8. Three girls coming from three different backgrounds leaves a lot of room for retrospective talks that let you fade into the night on weekends.
9. It is completely normal to wake up at 5 AM for no reason and have breakfast and go back to sleep at 8 AM.
10. When you are planning to go out, you can conduct your own mini-fashion show to get your statement for the evening.
11. Someone makes you get up from your afternoon catnap because she is getting bored without you. :)
12. They scold you when you go on shopping spree and keep reminding you that you are a "student" now, but then they also get you $3 strawberries from the farmer's market because you like to have them with yogurt.

I thank all the people who encouraged me to step into this. Especially my best friend Ameya who always tells me the truth earlier than when it is due. :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thank You Aai. :)

It is not very easy to like everything about me. I was specifically worried about landing in an unknown land and fighting hard to be able to fit in. Fortunately my mom has taught me the most important thing that a woman ( or even a man) needs to know to be able to banish all the opposition. There have been women in my family, on my mother's side, who were known for their tempers and pinching sarcasm. Women who would expect you to be so formal in their presence that drinking tea out of a stupid china cup would be one of the most challenging tasks at hand. They were all known, almost as a rule for their extraordinary culinary talent. Everything they said to you was forgotten with the sour-sweet dal or velvety puranpoli. Even a simple tomato soup would taste like a delicacy. My mom inherits that talent ( although she is not as sarcastic) and she has been clever enough to pass some of it on genetically and through disciplined cooking lessons to me. :)

Cooking is something I truly discovered when I landed in Australia.
Everything I cook, always reminds me of my mom. I still remember the way we started out. I was reluctant and she was angry. It was around the time when I was fifteen. My "induction" into the kitchen was something I thought was a "plan" to culture me into being marriage material but it all vanished once the classes started.
Before making any elaborate Maharashtrian dish my aai used to explain to me the fundamentals of cooking. Like if we were making anything involving tamarind and buttermilk, she used to say, " You begin this by adjusting the pH of the vegetables". I used to giggle under my breath for having such a geeky mom.
She used to encourage me to imagine what I want to cook. Visualize the end result. Even when I make a simple dal, on my way back from college as I take the river-walk , I imagine what would go into it. Then I take a mental check if I have all of that in the fridge. By the time I come home I know what my dal would look like.
She used to tell me that cooking is more about creativity than just a tool for survival. You have to know instinctively what you would like to put together. Designing a menu is one of the most difficult things, but when my mother does that it looks like a ballet on ice.
If she is a chemist at work, she is an artist in the kitchen. She never uses excess oil, excess water or excess spice yet her food tastes like it was just ordered from heaven.
She can manage about five different unit processes in the kitchen without help. Then like a seasoned chef she gets everything together just fifteen minutes before the arrival of the guests.
She never gets tired of cooking. It used to amaze me a few days back but now I know how it feels to like cooking.
She taught me how to extract pepper and cloves into the oil before they are used in your preparation. She taught me how to handle saffron and make saffron flowers on rasmalai. She taught me the principle behind making good tea ( which was taught to me in the form of a mathematical formula in mass transfer years later).
She taught me how to be patient while the ground-nuts roast on the pan. Or how to add lemon at the very last moment to save it from a heat shock. :)
She taught me to experiment and ( more importantly) to clean up after each experiment.
She taught me to cook with a lot of love in my heart for it is the only secret ingredient she has never told anyone else about!

So now even though I have certain inherent shortcomings as a person, I know that people would always put up with me because I cook well. :)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Oh no..Not another blog!!!

Hello All!!
Readers are requested to take note of a new blog
I am afraid PurpleMoon will still go on and I have no idea why this new thread. I hope we can all figure it out together as we go along.
Thank You!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

An Idle Observation. :)

What makes you feel home in a foreign land?
That when you happen to hear conversations
Across desks and cubicles
Girls always talk about weight loss
Or about insensitive boyfriends
Then they go on about the biggest sale
Or the shop around the corner of the street
That sells stylish bags

In public restrooms you always find them
Powdering their tiny, medium or almond eyes
Or brushing their golden brown or black hair
Giving each other tips
On how to not let your lips grow dry

And boys everywhere are the same
They talk about Cricket in India
And Rugby in Australia
Trying to solve the confusing riddles
Left behind with their girlfriend's perfume

Yet they are all so different
Like Mustard is from Cardamom
Like Olive oil from Peanut Butter
Same purpose, just a different flavor!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

How I started on the wrong foot and ended up having a good time.

I know I should keep my mouth shut. I always knew it.
It does not come into action that easily though.
I land in an unknown city with roomies that qualify as blind dates ( Yeah. Thanks to Google again)..but I should have taken it easy on being myself right away.
I started out with making rules right after I got over my jet lag.
So, I took up the task of writing Standard Operating Procedures for everything done around the house. They liked me for my neatness and cooking but like I always do, I overdid it slightly and one of my roomies blew up like an out of control reactor. :)
Let us not go into the details of what caused it. I think what I eventually did about it makes a more interesting story.
So she gets angry in Tamil and starts calling up all the Tamil people in Brisbane. I was upstairs in my room sobbing my homesickness away while my other roomie explained to her the new "code of conduct" ( That I had meticulously designed in the morning while my Tamil roomie was away).
I can understand when you have a language barrier in love. Sometimes it adds to the romance because both the parties invest special efforts in learning the other's language ( Thanks to Learn Gujrathi in Two Weeks) but when you have a language barrier in anger it ends up really complicated.
So I had to rush down as she broke down and started crying in Tamil. Since I had already offended her so royally she was unwilling to translate any of that into English for me. So I forgot my homesickness ( which had more to do with the bathroom floor in my current house not being squeaky clean than anything back home) and began consoling her in my ghastly Hindi. Then I switched to English. Somehow I sound more arrogant than I already am in English so I switched to the funny Hindi again and ran around behind her with a pack of tissues. The third roomie was away visiting her uncle in a suburb called Kenmore close by. So she was controlling the proceedings of our fight using our free Optus to Optus minutes. She kept hurling more Tamil lines at me and I suddenly found my sanity and decided to shut up. Every time she said something I used to tell myself, " Oh maybe that is what a B***H is called in Tamil". The language goes faster with stronger emotions and it was like a roller coaster ride for my ears.
Then the one tucked away in Kenmore came to my rescue. It was around 7.30 at night and out of the blue she asked me if I could pack my bags and leave her alone and come to Kenmore. Usually I would have declined this offer for a lot of reasons but I found myself saying yes even before my brain could completely process the question. So there I was, half sobbing and half terrified standing on Bus Stop 158 waiting for a bus that would take me away from Tamil vocabulary. I kept remembering everything my mom had told me about not travelling alone at night.
I left at 8:15 and I was probably the only passenger on the bus. With a rough idea of the route and my cellphone to help me figure out.
As soon as the bus started, it took the pretty road by the river and I was already feeling better. It was like a kid being distracted by fire crackers after getting a scraped knee. The bus driver ( contrary to my mother's opinions about drivers on empty buses) was a very gentle guy. He made sure that I got down at the right stop and I was safe with the girl I wanted to meet.
Then I met her uncle's dog and I suddenly realized how easy life becomes when no languages are spoken.
Like my roomie puts it ( the one who is not awfully mad at me and who listens to Floyd and lends me her skirts)
I laughed about it the next morning over a cup of tea.

So every time I am going to something new or meeting someone for the first time, these people tell me " Saee please don't come back with a fight". Actually that is not how I want myself to be seen but it will take a lot of toil and patience to change my first impression in Australia. :)
I have learnt my first lesson.
If you want to push around people and feel good about it, pick people who speak the same language. ;)
That could mean a lot of things actually!

Friday, September 07, 2007

FAQs about my Life in Brisbane

Hullo all...

Yeah you guessed it right. This page is no longer the breezy poetry or the witty prose page. I would be adding updates about my life here, which technically is as boring as Oprah Winfrey's appointments with Dr. Phil.

I dont have an awful amount of time to write separate emails to everybody and over a period of a week or so I have realized that I need to answer exactly the same questions in all the emails. So I hope this is enough.

#1 How is your House? ( With strangling threats if I am too lazy to use the camera in my mobile)

=> The house is nice. You enter into the kitchen and then there is this dining area ( which for some unknown reason looks like three laptops being eaten up by an octopus). You take a flight of stairs and then you have two bedrooms. It is bang in the middle of the city so everything is about five minutes walk away.

#2 Are your roomies still alive?

=> yeah they are. :) They like the fact that they have an expert cook on board. But its been just a week so I would keep this question on hold. I would answer it after I unpack over the weekend and spend some serious time cleaning things. There is a lot of room for my organizing,scrubbing and beautifying talents in this house.

#3 What do you eat? ( and a cheekier version "Do you eat at all? Now that no one is after you?")

=> Yeah..I eat. I cook and eat or I just survive on salads. Brisbane is a city of cafes. If I have a salad in each one of the cafes here before I finish my degree I would call myself a rich girl. I also cook Maharashtrian food for my Punjabi and Madrasi roomies which they have liked so far ( except they think I have no idea how much to cook for 3 people and had it not for their supervision I would have starved them all to death)

#4 How is the city?
=> Awesome. There is a long riverside. It is lined with hundreds of small and large coffee shops and restaurants. At night the curves on the bank light up with a million shimmering lights. You can take a walk and sip tea and then take a walk again and it goes on. It is a dream come true for someone who likes long contemplative walks. =)
The weather is a bit chilly right now but it is supposed to get warmer.
The city center is a typically British. People walk a lot here. It is not like you get in the car drive through the Mac Donald's, stuff yourself with a burger and move on with your life. :)

#5 What do you miss about India?
Rikshaws. I really miss rikshaw drives. :(
And I miss my room and my wardrobe. I miss the stray cat that I used to feed.
I miss wearing salwar kurta all the time.
Yeah and I miss aai-baba too. ( although somehow the last bit sounds really fake after the first bit) I really mean it.

#6 How is the Research?
This should ideally be #1. God knows why no one cares a crap about what I am actually here for.
I am asked to read aimlessly. Which kind of goes with my personality anyway. So I read all the time. Novels are out of my weekday life. Like when you are all by yourself for lunch and you flip open a novel with your sandwich, I open a paper on lignin chemistry.
I like it very much. Being a student again makes me feel a lot younger. :)

Okay I guess this will answer all the mails and I hope this keeps you happy for a while.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Australian Accent

It is like words
Looking into the back of a spoon
All groggy-eyed
before breakfast.
Like words
in a boat looking
looking into the River.
Like an Electric guitar
used with classical Music
Like an egg going crazy
in an ill-fitting frying pan
Like English with a lot of warmth
and the alphabet with a lot of Beer